Recommendation from staff on hiking poles. First time user using hiking poles for bad knees. So many to many options. What are some of your top pics? Would like to be able to easily store the poles in a back pack during par to the hike.  


Thanks for your question and I’m happy to try and narrow the choices down a bit. Not too long ago I used trekking poles for the first time. If I’m being perfectly honest I was really quite shocked at how much they helped me!  Hikes can definitely put a little stress on your joints and poles can help absorb some of the shock. In addition I found that poles really gave me some needed confidence on the way up and on the way down in spots where footwork might get a little tricky. 

You mentioned the poles being compact and we have you covered there. One more thing to think about is the pole grip. Most poles are going to be one of three things...either rubber grips, foam, or cork. This is user preference mostly but I personally lean towards the cork. I find my hands sweat less and feel more comfortable. Here are a few options:

REI Traverse Trekking Poles 

Black Diamond Distance Z Poles

REI Flash Carbon Trekking Poles 


This article might help too! Happy trails!

Trekking Poles Expert Advice 



At REI, we believe time outside is fundamental to a life well lived.

Hey @Kelly1 

Trekking poles are my best friend when hiking and backpacking! I use them all the time.

You're absolutely right, there are a ton of choices when it comes to poles, a really great place to start is by reviewing our Expert Advice article How to Choose Trekking Poles & Hiking Staffs.

I personally use trekking poles with the anti-shock spring, I spend a lot of time hiking in the rocky terrain of Southern California and I find the little bit of spring action really helps on the downhill on the rocky surfaces. 

In terms of ability to stow them away, the folding trekking poles will always pack down the smallest. However, if you choose an option with other features, many packs have a loop on the outside of them meant to store your trekking poles when not in use, which comes in super handy!

Good luck with your search!

Happy Adventuring!

Katie K.

At REI, we believe time outside is fundamental to a life well lived.

Some general comments to add to what's already been said, from someone who's been using hiking poles for several decades.

1. If you plan to travel by plane with your poles, be aware of TSA's policy,
Hiking Poles
Carry On Bags: No
Checked Bags: Yes
If you normally fly with carry-on luggage only you'll need to consider this. One exemption is if you need those poles for mobility, i.e. canes. Rules also vary by country.

I know people who have flown both in the US and internationally with folding poles in their carry-on. Ultimately this is at the discretion of security. If you get someone who knows the rules and is intent on enforcing them you could lose an expensive item.

2. I prefer foldable poles over collapsible ones because they'll fit in smaller luggage. They're also safer to strap onto your backpack. (People who strap collapsible poles with the tips pointing up are dangerous when they turn around in crowded areas with the tips at eye level.

3. Foldable poles have the disadvantage that they can't be repaired. If you break or bend a pole section that pole has to be replaced. By contrast with a collapsible pole you can easily get replacement parts. If you're mechanically handy you can usually do the fix by yourself. Leki is particularly good at stocking a wide range of parts for all of their poles.

4. Pole weight is important. You'll be carrying in your hands all day. Carbon fiber is much lighter than aluminum or other metals. 

5. If you get foldable poles make sure the length is adjustable. On some models it's not. On others the top section collapses a few inches just like regular collapsable poles. This is important, especially when you use poles for the first time because you won't know what exact length is most comfortable on the trail until you get out there and try them. Also it's generally better to slightly shorten poles when going uphill and slightly lengthening them when going downhill.

Hope that helps...




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I have used everything from wooden repurposed shovel handles to carbon fiber collapsible poles, including trail side branches, slightly modified ski touring poles, etc.  They all are useful and are much better than nothing, especially when crossing streams and navigating slippery terrain.

I have never been bothered by the differences in weight among these different poles.  Improperly tightened collapsible poles, true to form, may collapse under a heavy load, but can also be stowed handily in a backpack'

These days, bothered by an arthritic hip (surgery postponed until covid-19 is handled) I find my ancient Chouinard Equipment Alpine Probe sticks are very handy.  These are trekking pole, if you please, and not canes.  Only the lame and halt use canes.


So, grab a pole,any pole and use it.  You will be glad you did.


Superusers do not speak on behalf of REI and may have received
one or more gifts or other benefits from the co-op.